Poems About Motherhood

When my sister first told me about the documentary she worked on at CNN, “Atlanta Child Murders,” I didn’t know if I would watch it. I remember that grisly time in Atlanta, when so many children were found dead in woods and rivers.

But I was a teenager then, and I was in a self-involved frame of mind. I didn’t consider, like I do now, the horrendous grief of their mothers.

Now I’m the mother of two young men. I worry about them whenever they drive off in a car, which is why I didn’t want to watch the documentary.

But I did watch it. And the mothers’ grief moved me the most. I realized that I’ve been mourning in advance for what might happen to my sons. Better to grieve with the women who lost their children, rather than wallow in the imaginary fate of my boys. It’s a lesson in compassion.

I wrote a poem in memory of the murdered children, a pantoum about worry and grief that starts with a sentence from a Buddhist parable: “The living are few but the dead are many.”

The lesson of the story is that we aren’t alone in our suffering. One mother’s loss is the loss of all mothers.

film movement

After reading Odessa’s post (author of the inspirational blog freefalling me) about the film Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamtress, I started thinking about independent movies I’ve seen recently, and Viva Cuba came to mind.

Viva Cuba, written and directed by Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, tells the story of a girl and a boy on the cusp of puberty who go on a cross-country trek to find the girl’s father. It’s a movie about children, but not made for children, one of my favorite genres. Just as Odessa found Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, I found this movie at my local library. It’s part of a monthly film club sponsored at a site called Film Movement.

Film Movement features independent and foreign (to me) films from all over the globe. I tend to gravitate toward independent films because the stories are intimate, the acting authentic, the photography inspired. Independent film makers need the film to tell the story because they can’t rely on the Hollywood machine and special effects to carry the day for them.

And when a theatrical presentation costs $10.00 a show, I’d rather spend my money on a high-quality DVD I can watch several times over if I choose to, in my own home. And when my library subscribes, it’s even better.

Here’s a short list of movies about children but not made for children that I especially like:

The Bicycle Thief
My Life as a Dog
Valentin
Por la libre (in English billed as Dust to Dust. In Spanish it means ‘on the freeway’.)

And I can’t forget the blockbusters, Slumdog Millionaire and Pan’s Labyrinth.

What about you? Any coming-of-age films you’d like to share?